The Plumbing Cantos: Canto XVI

After a bit of a break (sorry!) I have returned to the Plumbing Cantos in an effort to finish at least a first draft by the end of the year.

This one feels like it should be accompanied by some sort of glossary. But I guess if you really don’t understand some of the words, there’s always Google.

I did actually do quite a bit of research for this, so if you want to see where my mind went, I’d recommend you view the excellent docu “One Mile Away” and also “Hard Stop” about the events around Mark Duggan’s shooting in North London.

CANTO XVI

I may have said before, I cannot stand
the chaos sometimes people bring to life,
as if they thrive when things get out of hand.

I hear the distant water from the tide
that plunges down the next part further on.
A group of people pass us by. Inside

I’m thinking “Maybe something here is wrong.”
as three of them peel out and head us off,
confirms what I was thinking all along.

I’m trying to think of how to brush them off,
but Patrick says: “When I say “run”, run. RUN!”
“That’s not a very good idea.” I scoff.

They then begin to circle us for fun
before their leader ask me “Postcode, bruh?”
and flicks his shirt as if he has a gun.

“You step to me in Hell? How tho?
I kill a man dead, bruh. Don’t lie to me.”
I look at them through raining fire flows,

when one looks round at something I can’t see.
I notice that his jacket hood is burnt
away, his melting flesh throbs visibly.

The flames have penned them in. I can’t be hurt
by them. “I live up Brixton Hill.” I say
“That’s my endz, G.” He pauses, then reverts

to something softer. “TIME, I’ve been away.
You know Six Seven? Where they at now G?”
I don’t know what he means but take the bait.

“So why are you guys here in Hell?” “Believe
just repping our own endz, you get me blud?
We light up any people on the beef

until they got us lick down from above.
My name is Jacko by the way. That’s WARZ,
and he’s TG from S.E.15, blud.”

That’s odd. “But shouldn’t you two be at war?
You’re South West Two, he’s not, so why is that?”
“I never sat with other mans before

from other postcode, sitting down like that,
you realise our pressure is the same
from different sides, G.” Looking back on that

I couldn’t see why they would play the game
and stay alive, but my life wasn’t theirs
as Jacko (frankly generously!) explained:

“That’s all I knew since I was nine, and bare
mans all the same. They say that no-one chose
this life, it chose me. Swear down. Be aware

that’s how it is.” But while I couldn’t know,
I wondered who created this Set-Up,
and why they weren’t in Hell in place of those

guys right in front of me, who ask me: “Blud:
remember me to mandem”, looks at WARZ,
then turn and shuffle slowly off through mud.

At this point Patrick interrupts my thoughts
again. And asks me for my belt. This belt
is only for my working clothes I bought

specifically because my knees had felt
a little sore, and these ones had the pads
built in the trousers so that when I knelt

on building sites it didn’t hurt. Pat grabs
my belt and drops it down the pit before
I have a chance to speak. My thoughts began

to float away. I want to think some more
about these three we met just now and make
it change the way I am. But life ignores

your best attempts to change and contemplate,
with silly things like paunch from middle age
necessitating belts for trousers – takes

your mind away from following the rage,
or wondering: Are these three tropes or real
ideas for my imaginary stage?

I will say this: Despite what you may feel
I swear by this book in your hand (or phone
or laptop/Kindle/Tablet): This was real.

It happened: circling with screams and moans
a creature swims up through the air
as if it freed itself from hooks below

the water, ordering my thoughts right there.

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Copyright Michael L Radcliffe ©2018

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